Title: Consecration Series 1: Relics
Age: 4 - 10 years
Liturgical Time: Any
Subject: Saints and Relics in the Holy Altar
Direct Aims: To teach children that saintliness is marked by the presence of God’s grace in a human being; that this grace is physically present in the body, even after death; that we honor the relics of a Saint because they are truly a part of the Saint and because God’s grace continues to dwell within them; to teach the stories of the three Holy Martyrs whose relics are or will be sealed into our altar during the Service of the Consecration.
pound cake or waﬄes
pancake syrup ﬂavored strawberry or maple, etc.
names and life stories of the three relics of speciﬁc martyrs in your church alter
The younger the age level, the more important the tactile demonstration is; for the youngest children, this image will likely be the primary means of understanding the holiness of relics, while for the oldest ages, the demonstration is mostly fun and delicious. Older students can be taught with more words. With younger children, a skeleton sketch of the conversation will happen, but with older children, the conversation can unfold in a more detailed and complex way.
The instructor should pose questions, and let students answer. Receive their answers and contemplate them aloud, discussing all of the ideas. If the kids are going in the wrong direction, after several ideas it’s ok to say, “I was thinking of another idea…” to re-direct.
How does a person become a Saint? Are they just born holy?
Over time, if we cooperate, God can change our hearts and make us holy. What can we do to allow God to work in our hearts? Answers include pray, love God and others, fast, receive Holy Communion and other sacraments, etc.
We say that people are ﬁlled with grace; sometimes we can see it in their eyes! Have you ever seen a person whose eyes were ﬁlled with light or with love?
We pray that the Holy Spirit will live inside of us. Is that literal and real? -- Yes, that’s literal. We receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion (literally) and we pray that He will live in our hearts. God’s grace is not just an idea: it is a real thing and it can be inside our bodies or inside other things. (For instance, holy water) God’s grace is literally present in the bodies of saintly humans, and in you!
Show the kids the ‘body’ of the cake or waﬄe. Pour syrup over the top, and let it soak in. Cut open the cake or waﬄe, and examine the parts that are dry vs. those soaked in syrup.
Discussion: The syrup is like the grace of God; it ﬂows over us and penetrates our souls and bodies. The cake/waﬄe is not the same after it has been penetrated by the syrup: like God’s grace, it permanently transforms us. A Saint’s body is soaked in God’s grace, and the Holy Relics are diﬀerent from plain old bodies because the grace remains.
Taste the syrupy cake/waﬄe. It’s sweet and delicious, like the spiritual fragrance of relics!
When someone dies, their body is still part of them, left behind. We treat bodies with respect and love. When the body also contains the grace of God, we venerate it.
Bodies should smell terrible as they decay, but some Saints’ relics will exude a sweet-smelling fragrance, and sometimes they will even exude myrrh (a sweet-smelling oil.) God is letting us know that He loves His Saints and that He is with us and they are with us.
In the early years of the Church, before we had real churches, the Apostles and the Christians would go together to the places where the martyrs were buried. These were like caves, and they were called ‘catacombs’. They would use the tombs of the martyrs as their altars when they did the liturgy and received Holy Communion. That’s how special the relics were to them! The bodies of the Saints were known to be very holy.
Now we have churches instead, but we want to hold onto that tradition, so we place Holy Relics in the Altar tables of consecrated churches. In this manner, we always remember that the Church is built on the faith and blood of the Holy Martyrs. Tell the students the stories of the three Holy Martyrs whose relics are sealed into our altar. We recommend that you paraphrase the stories; there is likely not time in class to read an entire biography aloud. Indeed, students often appreciate a dramatic, spontaneous narration.
Because people witness their deaths and can say that the Martyrs were ﬁlled with grace at the time of their death, we know for sure that their relics contain God’s grace.
The relics of these Martyrs are or will be sealed in our altar forever. We now have a special connection to them. They will pray for us, and we can ask for their help.
Prepared by Elissa Bjeletich 2016